Skin Cancer


Skin cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in the United States, is the result of the abnormal growth of skin cells. Cancer can affect skin anywhere on the body, but most frequently appears on skin that is exposed to the sun. There are more than a million new cases of skin cancer in the United States each year.

Commonly Asked Questions about Skin Cancer

What are the Causes of Skin Cancer?

Every day, skin cells die and new cells form to replace them in a process controlled by DNA synthesis. Skin cancer can form when this process does not work properly because of damage to DNA.  DNA damage is often a result of ultraviolet radiation from sunlight or tanning lamps. In some cases, skin cancer affects areas of the skin that have not been exposed to the sun.

Certain factors, such as fair skin, moles, a weakened immune system, heredity and age will most certainly increase the risk of skin cancer.

Before and After Results

*Individual Results May Vary

What are the Types of Skin Cancer?

There are three major types of skin cancer, and they affect different layers of the skin. They are named for the different types of skin cells that become cancerous.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell skin cancer occurs in the basal cell layer of the skin and is the most common type of skin cancer.  It commonly occurs on areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun, such as the face; being most commonly located on the nose, upper lip, and ears. This form of cancer rarely spreads to other parts of the body.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma occurs in the squamous cells, and is the second most common type of skin cancer and can occur in all skin types, but has a predilection for sun exposed areas.  In people with fair skin, it usually occurs in sun-exposed areas such as on the face, head, ears and neck. Squamous cell skin cancer can spread to other parts of the body, but is not as rapidly ominous as Malignant Melanoma.

Malignant  Melanoma

Melanoma is the most aggressive type of cancer, and the most likely to spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma occurs in the melanocyte (pigment) cells of the skin, and can form on any part of the body, regardless of past sun exposure.  There are forms of this skin cancer that can form on the soles of the feet or the palms of the hands.

What are the Symptoms of Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is often identified as a new or changed growth on the skin of the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms, hands or legs. Although these are common areas for skin-cancer growths to form, they can occur anywhere, and manifest themselves as the following:

  • Pearly or waxy bump
  • Flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion
  • Firm, red nodule
  • Crusted, flat lesion
  • Large brown spot with darker speckles
  • Shiny, firm bumps

A mole that changes shape or color can also indicate skin cancer.

At Contoura Facial Plastic Surgery, we adhere to the principles of ABCD’s:

Any changes in the following should be concerning:

  • Assymetry
  • Border smoothness
  • Color
  • Diameter

How is the Diagnosis of Skin Cancer performed?

To diagnose skin cancer, Dr. Roberto Garcia or your primary physician will closely evaluate any skin lesion that is suspicious as defined above.  If warranted, Dr. Garcia will perform a non-invasive shave biopsy (leaving no scar) and send the specimen to the Pathologist for evaluation. Once the results of the biopsy are reviewed, the type of cancer can be determined and a treatment plan created.

What is the Treatment for Skin Cancer?

Treatment for skin cancer depends on the type, size and location of the cancerous lesion. Most options include the removal of the entire growth, and are effective forms of treatment. Dr. Garcia prefers, if possible, to have a Mohs surgeon evaluate and remove the cancerous lesion.  This form of cancer removal spares the most amount of normal un-involved skin allowing for better reconstruction of the area.  Dr. Garcia and the patient will then make a reconstructive plan that leaves the best scar and is well concealed.

How can Skin Cancer be Prevented?

Although not every case of skin cancer can be prevented, the best way to avoid it is to protect skin from the sun. At Contoura Facial Plastic Surgery, we have a team of skin care specialists that specialize not only in treating existing skin issues, but in the prevention of further skin damage.

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